Where baby care is concerned, cleanliness and hygiene are of prime importance. This is more so in summer. A baby’s skin is very tender and has to get used to seasonal changes. Some common complaints that babies and infants suffer from are chapping, ‘crawler’s knee’, tender noses and rubbed elbows. The skin can get irritated, with redness and even burning. Wetness in the diaper area also causes skin irritation and sensitivity. A scaly condition of the scalp, known as “cradle cap” is also common among babies.
Babies are prone to rashes, especially in the diaper region. Prickly heat can be common during summer. If rashes persist for more than a day, you should consult your doctor before giving a massage. Powder would help to keep the diaper region dry. In fact, babies develop prickly heat very easily. But avoid using too much powder, as it can settle in the folds and crevices of the baby’s skin. Baby massage is probably the most important part of baby care. Apart from benefits to the body, massage plays an important role in healthy emotional development. Studies show that massage helps to strengthen emotional bonds and gives the baby a sense of security and mental well-being. Ayurveda advocates the choice of oil according to the season. Pure olive oil has a gentle effect and is ideal for baby’s skin. Oils with heavy perfumes should not be used on a baby’s skin. Olive oil is light and quickly absorbed.
Massage has many physical benefits too. In the initial months, the baby hardly has any physical activity. Massage helps blood circulation, muscle tone and growth. The practice of leaving the baby in the sun, after massage, for about ten minutes, helps in the formation of Vitamin D, aiding the development of healthy bones and prevents diseases like rickets. But, the baby should not be left in the sun too long, as it can cause sunburn. Keep the baby’s head and face away from direct sunlight.
Remove rings and other such items before massaging and bathing the baby, so that no injury is caused. It is also better to keep your nails short. Simple stroking movements should be used and ensure that the baby’s arms and legs are not pulled too firmly. All movements should be smooth and rhythmic. Sudden, jerky movements can frighten the baby. The head and face should not be massaged. Take care around the region of the umbilical cord, specially during the first few weeks. The baby should not be massaged if there is any fever or disease. Seek your doctor’s advice first.
All traditions are carried on from generation to generation. The same way, the way of caring for the baby is passed on from mother to daughter. What is important is that you will remember and cherish these moments spent with your baby, for the rest of your life. You will enjoy being a mother, seeing the baby’s responses and experiencing the emotional bonds. Caring for your baby, giving the daily massage and bath can be a wonderful way of communicating, which eliminates the need for words.